Mass murder tragedy in Norway, and Christian democracy

By Kristo Ivanov (2011, version 150508-1100)

(Full text of blog-item <>)

On 25 July 2011 in an interview at the Swedish radio a journalist wanted that the Swedish prime minister should have swiftly commented with better rhetorics the tragedy of mass murder in Norway caused by the by now herostratically famous Anders Behring Breivik. I believe that what the journalist wanted was a more emotional or aggressive expression and condemnation of the "extreme right" in general and the Sweden-democrats party in particular, in its resemblande to Norways Progressive party with which the perpetrator Anders Breivik sympathized. Interestingly, the Christian-Catholic point of view about not judging people in themselves but merely their actions and motivations (a human is more than his actions) should come to the fore along with, in the context, embarrassing "understanding" of the human being, along with a redeeming, if not forgiving attitude. Mass media's and the political establishment's bullying of Sweden Democrats or the Norwegian Progressive party, which seems to attract such problematic or politically incorrect people, just annoys and aggravates the aggressivity of ditto people, recalling Hannah Arendt's message on power and violence. Imagine if the U.S. had been able to think about this after the 11 September's events, at least in the official Christian mass held in a Washington church after the event. Even the officiating priest did not  dare to to say anything about "understanding" the criminals, and reconciliation if not forgiveness like suggesting a withdrawal of American troops from Muslim countries, or the launching of a sort of regional analog to the Marshall Plan, which obviously were and are considered politically impossible but would have had a baffling effect. As expressed in a letter to the editor of Dagens Nyheter (9 October 2012) muslims need indeed help rather than satire that denigrates their religiously grounded only hope for a better life. Christian caritas as a supplement to justice or outright retaliation in the treatment of hate is obviously considered to be impossible. Hate is supposed to be met and remediated only by hateful retaliation despite 2000 years of Christianity and lip service to Christianity's moral superiority over Islam's supposed violent hatefulness.

Moreover, it may interest you to note that, to my knowledge no one in Sweden has so far been able or willing to spare a thought for the Catholic point of view, the fundamental institution of FAMILY, the family situation as a context of the criminal's background. Below I reproduce a few quotes that I gathered in my ongoing research on similar issues (and which I put in the context of what I previously wrote on political correctness and how good people are supposed to turn evil. And here follow the quotes,

 From the English Wikipedia
"Anders Behring Breivik" accessed  25 July 25 2011:
The English Wikipedia reports (July 25 2011) That his father Jens currently lives in France as a pensions and had no contact with his son after 1995. His mother, Wenche (née Behring) was a nurse, and is said to be a feminist. He has two half-brothers and two half-sisters, from the previous marriage of his parents. His parents divorced when he was one year old and his mother together with him and his half-sister moved from London back to Oslo.

 From The Telegraph, 25 July 2011
"Norway killer: Anders Behring Breivik was a 'mummy's boy'":

The absent father is a theme that Anders returned to repeatedly in his rambling 1.500 page manifesto. His diary reveals an [odd conflict with] his mother – at once fond of her and furious at the liberal upbringing she gave him. He wrote: "I do not approve of the super-liberal, matriarchal upbringing as it completely lacked discipline and has contributed to feminise me to a certain degree."

 From CBS News - World Watch, 25 July 2011
 "Breivik's father: I wish my son killed himself":
The father of Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian who confessed to last Friday's twin terror attacks, said he was ashamed and disgusted by his son's acts and wished he had committed suicide. Jens David Breivik, a former diplomat who lives in retirement in the south of France, said he first learned of his son's attacks from media websites." I couldn't believe my eyes. It was totally paralyzing and I couldn't really understand it," he said. Breivik's parents divorced in 1980, and his father lived in London while he and his mother lived in Oslo. In an interview with the Swedish tabloid Expressen, Breivik said he and his son have had virtually no contact with one another since 1995 (when Anders was 16), except for a "bland" phone call about 10 years ago. "I don't feel like his father," said Breivik from his secluded home in southern France.

From the Swedish television SVT1, 22 December 2011, 10:00 p.m.
"Brennpunkt: Far till en massmördare" available on the Internet until further notice:
Title to be translated in English as "Focal Point: The father of a mass murderer",
Norwegian documentary by NRK's ??Brennpunkt-editors. The terror suspect Anders Breivik Behring has in interrogations refused to talk about his childhood. For the first time now tells Breivik father and stepfather about the mass murderer's family and upbringing. Starring: Jens Breivik and Tore Tollefsen.

From the Swedish television SVT2, 19 April 2012, 08:00 p.m.
"Den norske terroristen", translated title of the original
"Norway's massacre", BBC documentary by Edward Watts:
Documentary shown on BBC HD and BBC2 on 15-16 April 2012 on occasion of the ongoing trial of Anders Breivik in Oslo's district court. The documentary dealt with the question of Breivik's motives for his crime, whether his was sane or insane, and whether he should be allowed to have his own statements of motives broadcasted or not. Among others interviewed there was forensinc psychiatrist Randi Rosenqvist  but none of them even mentioned Breivik's family situation  during his upbringning, the absence of his father with whom he did not speak the last 15 years, his views about his mother and the other way round, etc.

One has to go to Wikipedia in order to be informed that Breivik reproached his mother for being, in his opinion, a "moderate" feminist (whatever that means, if he really expressed it so - no reference is given to the source). He wrote about his upbringing: "I do not approve of the super-liberal, matriarchal upbringing as it completely lacked discipline and has contributed to feminising me to a certain degree". It is extremely interesting to note the example of another young man involved in serial shooter who also is reported to have had a similarly complicated upbringning (only for Swedish readers, in a Swedish Newspaper.)

Yes, the FAMILY, and parents' responsiblities for it and for their children, contrasted to the death of committed love, divorces, feminism and promiscuity: the very same family that, together with the Christian "Holy Family", is repeatedly and programmatically scorned in various programs at the "public service" Swedish Radio, as already indicated below. Repeated attacks are made as in the "cultural" program "OBS-Kulturkvarten" in time for Christmas 2011 (23 December  1.45 and 8.45 pm) with text by a prominent "feminist sex entertainer" in the role of amateur-apprentice theologian. Another writer-columnist in the role of amateur-apprentice theologian-philosopher-of-science whom I already noted many years ago was invited on 28 October 2011 by the public service Swedish Radio to give a one-and-half hour sermon on science and atheism that also contributes to the deconstruction of the traditional values of the loving family, as do other "artistic" sermons as indicated above in my entry on the SCUM-manifesto. And most  of the press, especially the Swedish one, contributes systematically to the silencing of the consequences of the ongoing deconstruction of the family. Like in the Breivik-case it ignores or hushes the fact that many family-tragedies are correlated with if not caused by absent or absented parents, almost always fathers. One example among many is the case of a young murderer whose symptomatic upbringning is hushed, like Breivik's, in a report by Dagens Nyheter (25 April 2012). If that is not enough this very same dimension of the problem has also been hushed even after public opinion forced the Swedish government to investigate and report the scandalous history of  related child buse and neglect in institutions and foster homes (Vanvård i Social Barnavård, SOU 2011:61 with English summary). It is also symptomatic that the bibliography in the report - I could not believe my eyes - neglected all reference to domestic and international scientific research on the matter, as well as to books that contributed to public opinion behind the report and to debates (cf. one more, on political intrusion into the family, among many examples in Google on "omhändertagande av barn") around the Swedish act on the care of young people (Lag om Vård av Unga, ULV, act 1990:52). On 17 May 2012 the Swedish state television reported (film Stulen Barndom, i.e. Stolen Childhood) on the tragic life of one man who embodied and fostered the build up of public opinion on the issue, ending his life with a suicide, exaclty the same that was reported (see above, CBS News 25 July 2011) that Breivik's absent father wished his son had done. It should be obvious that some reflections are needed on the importance of the family for the formation of youth, even if not circumscribed to the views of Catholicism.

The ongoing deconstruction or destruction of the family in the name of alternative "family constellations" can also hamper the integration of immigrants and the mutual understanding of different cultures, which stands at the center of the Breivik tragedy. This is especially so when religions are involved, such as Islam, where the secularization process and the destruction of the family have not progressed as much as in formerly Christian West. For instance, contrary to the case of the Muhammad drawings controversy or Muhammad cartoons controversy, Jesus Christ is often the object of frivolous contempt and scorn, and one late example among innumerable many like the Swedish Ecce Homo exhibition is James Frey's The Final Testament of the Holy Bible with the goal of  "creating a new mythology" on a Christian model. For instance, the Swedish state television channel SVT1 sent on 16 May 2012 in the investigative journalistic series Uppdrag Granskning a program that with hidden cameras and controversially edited recordings purports to reveal what values do Muslim leaders spread in Swedish mosques and what advice imams give to self-declared oppressed women who simulate a confession of would-be intimate family conflicts about sexual rights vs. duties, polygamy and wife-beating. And all this is broadcasted against the highlighted background of state subsidies to religious communities presupposing their role of "maintaining and strengthening the society's basic values". This is recalled to mean, among other things, that the communities must work for "equality between men and women, and against discrimination, violence, and brutality". In pursuing this the tv-program embodies all ongoing confusions about the relation between public vs. private, religious vs. secular, ethical vs. theological, civil society vs. government and the principle of subsidiarity. In law this relates further to the phenomenon of criminalization (calls for police) that in Sweden has been the object of a penetrating PhD dissertation by Claes Lernestedt. The issue would take us too far here, but I have tried to address it elsewhere, (as in another item of this blog about the Society for Cutting Up Men, S.C.U.M. already mentioned above) when analyzing the related hypocrisy in political correctness that the tv-program so well exemplifies. It assumes that religious institutions should contribute to the reduction of ethics to law enforcement, recommending solution of family conflicts by recourse to the police, ignoring even the teachings of restorative justice. It exacerbates mutual mistrust and hate that may end in violence and terror of Breivik-type. In all this most Westeners today condemn Islamic polygamy but don't care about the "why" of monogamy and its Christian sources. At the same time practical polygamy is probably most often practiced tacitly among Westerners in the form of serial monogamy, adultery and the extremes of polyamory without raising public outrage. And nobody cares about the significant parallels between Islam, Judaism and Christianity with the often misunderstood Christian teachings (Ephesians 5:24 and 1 Peter 3:1-6) with regard to wives' obedience to their husbands that takes into account the difficulties of an institution having two equal CEOs, as well as teachings (1 Corinthians 7:2-5) with regard to rights and duties in sexual intercourse that could alleviate wife-beating or mutual beatings by preventing destructive emotional blackmailing and retaliation (cf. Romans 12:20, Proverbs 25:21-22.)

It is difficult to talk about WHY Anders Breivik did what he did because of what he felt. Difficult - and so what?  Difficult as trying to understand world-wide terrorism - and so what? It is symptomatic that nobody up to now seems to have been able to submit Breivik's Manifesto (also in pdf-version) or not even the shorter and simpler video 2083 - A European Declaration of Independence to a serious rational analysis in the sense of extracting from it some rationale that explains his legitimization of his own views on societal decay, akin to the views held by islamic terrorists or, say, by the Una-bomber Ted Kaczynski. This importance of the family - all important in the Christian and especially Catholic perspective - is to be contrasted to the fact that in many Western secularized countries one prefers to talk about community, government, police, far right (less the Stalinist-Maoist-influenced left or far left), feminism (it was "men's" fault - see the Swedish text in a major newspaper on the fatidical 25 July "How-should-we-identify-the-lonely-dangerous-men"), and legislation. And the whole society, in the present secularized and postmodern frame of mind, sees the social and ethical problem in the perspective of a legal positivism as expressed by lawyers and prosecutors, with no idea of restorative justice. And the legislation of our time has neither time nor motivation for one-hundredth of the depth of thought as Alexis de Tocqueville's 150 years ago. Yes, the tragedy is probably the result of the ongoing tragic divinization and misunderstanding of democracy as well as of the concomitant destruction of the family as basic unit of society, and in particular of a democratic society according to the principle of subsidiarity.

As a test of whether it is a question of misunderstanding of democracy in a time when religious freedom for minorities tends t
o be interpreted as the secularized majority's right to question the freedom of religion, I analysed an article (in Swedish: "Därför ler Anders Behring Breivik") in the newspaper Dagens Nyheter published on 20 April 2012. This was under the stressful days at the beginning of the trial of Breivik. The article written by science journalist and historian Henrik Arnstad, in strange similarity to another one written some days later (25 April,  by art critic Ingela Lind) purports to explain why Breivik appears sometimes cool or even smiling during the trial as he also was during the perpetration of his crimes. The explanation given is that he is a modern fascist, and he sees  "politically correct" socialists, liberals, and feminists as the German fascists regarded Jews: in this perspective the actions and attitudes of Breivik are understandable and logical. He does not need to be understood (so long as he does not unite with too many like-minded): it is not a question of psychological insanity but, rather, a matter of political ideology (so long as it does not unite too many like-minded).

This author's attitude also seems to be the one that justifes the limitations imposed on the freedom of expression in broadcasting Breivik's repugnant defense during the trial, while, paradoxically, no limitations are ever imposed on "ideological artistic" expressions such as, say, in popular satanic rock music. In this way the author of the article explains away everything by gathering together socialists, liberals, feminists, Jews, and the term political correctness itself, and himself, as symbolizing the victims of fascism and nazism. That is, a sort of inverse "guilt by association", a redemption or "honor by association". In reality it can be simply the author's application of  the socio-psychological principle of winning the argument by means self-victimization or victim mentality, especially in the case of mentioning Jews related to the Holocaust as the author does. Or it was the author's unconscious impersonation of Jesus' persona as way of distancing himself from the evil that Breivik's example makes us suspect may dwell also in ourselves, as I indicated elsewhere. I ponder that it was in the name of the sanctified liberalism of the French revolution and sanctified socialism of applied marxism that innumerable innocents were sacrificed with the same logic of Breivik, as today's feminist enthusiasts of the S.C.U.M. Manifesto are allowed to advertise with impunity the murder of men while priests are not allowed to preach against homosexuality. Not to mention the cool  and democratic collateral murder of civilians in the ongoing war against terrorism, or the Lancet Surveys of Iraq War Casualties. All with the same basic logic of sacrificing innocents for a supposedly higher long term ideal that in Iraq's case was not even legalized by the United Nations, but is excused by reference to the example of war against nazism, if not Vietnam's communism. And yet there are many who in their superficial analysis (without real whys) of Breivik refuse to relate his mass murder (so long as he does not unite too many like-minded) to nations's "democratically" (as for USA's Iraq invasion) organized governmental murder that is called war.

The author of the article, journalist and historian, even concludes his article imagining in his interpretation that Breivik could well have experienced the crime as "mission accomplished
". The journalist-historian does not perceive the embarassing fact that the banner became famous as it was proclaimed by president George W. Bush as marking the end of major combat operations after the Iraq invasion in May 2003. It is, finally, symptomatic that the author does not know, or acknowledge that political correctness also has a main connotation in Stalinist  "socialist" orthodoxy, revealing itself in socio-psychological studies that i have reviewed elsewhere as having much to do with the  Western decadence of the family institution in its Christian conception. Swedish readers can refer further to my earlier blog item about the "family", and another one with its links as examples of decay of family relationships.

And the family has much to do with politics, not only because the family has long been conceived as the basic unit of civil society prior to the liberal atomization into discrete individuals. When humans cannot experience a loving consideration within the precint of the family they will look for it within the closest social environment, tribes, gangs, political parties, or the historical nation, leading to desperate nationalism. , the "flag", the godly "royal family" or "democracy", or "general will" of the "people". When all of them fail or are not sufficient because of the unavoidable dilution of the interpersonal, intimate emotional ties, the next step is socialistic or capitalistic internationalism and multiculturalism as related nowadays to the dream of cosmopolitan computerized globalization. One cannot rescue one's own family but wants to rescue the world. But what ultimately and desperately is being sought is likely to be the kind of love that in the Christian tradition is comprehensively called charity. The obscure etymology of the word religion suggests that it aimed at binding or relating humans among themselves and to God, revealing them as brothers because of their common godly filiation. 

if such thoughts appear quite weird to us, citizens of societies living in a secularized culture, it may be due to having ignored or forgotten that  the "political approach" to the management of human affairs is "making polis (or community)." "One of the essential conditions for making polis is the creation of an image of sharing and the breakdown of the ego-desire drive." (Words of this last paragraph up to here are from West Churchman's The Systems Approach and Its Enemies
, 1979, p. 24, cf. p. 74). The secular attempt to make polis without a religious tradition that supports ethics does not only undermine human tolerance to different religions and fosters "phobias" (as illustrated by C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity, (chap.6 or II.1) but also blurs political analysis into a hodgepodge of  bombastic political constructions. This is clearly illustrated in the inconsequential analyses that the Breivik-events prompted political intellectuals to make, as Steve Sailer about Breivik's Brain. Swedish readers may read Paul Gottfried about of the meaning of cultural marxism adduced by Breivik, and Roland Poirier Martinsson about the standard political left-right scale's attempts to appropriate Breivik's overall rhetorics. Others like Lars Adaktusson relate terrorist attacks to "madness and extremism" and talk about "motives and driving forces", a conceptual morass that I addressed in my review of Philip Zimbardo's acclaimed book on The Lucifer Effect: How Good People Turn Evil. The Breivik tragedy has turned into a grab-and-scramble party of using the tragedy for own political purposes. And this without ever questioning whether there may be anything fundamentally wrong in society's "democratic" political ethics that raises terror-feelings in mentally vulnerable, or spiritually sensitive people like, say, the classical islamist Sayyid Qutb's who are then declared criminal or insane as the politically incorrect dissidents in former Stalinist Soviet Union.

No surprise, then, that forensic psychiatry with its obscure relation to sociology of law, politics, ethics, theology and religious feelings has had troubles in defining Breivik's mental status. And we ourselves (as Tocqueville, mentioned above) should have troubles in defining the dangers and cultural status of secularized Western democracies. This became clear upon the announcement of the court's announcement of the verdict on Breivik on 24 August 2012, widely publicized in the world press, not the least in the USA. The riddle is illustrated by newspapers' editorials (such as in Dagens Nyheter 25 August 2012) that attempt to summarize the verdict as the resolution of a conflict between the first pair of expert psychiatrists consulted by the court (Torgeir Husby and Synne Sørheim) diagnosing Breivik as paranoid schizophren and the second pair of psychiatrists summoned later (Angar Aspaas and Terje Tørrissen) countering the first diagnosis with their own of Breivik having been and being fully accountable and therefore entitled to prison instead of institutional patient psychiatric care. That is, after the first diagnosis had been published prosecutors and public outrage led the court to summon the second pair of psychiatrists. The latter's diagnosis was then endorsed by the court verdict and pacified the outrage. A consequence, however, was the subsequent massmedial smearing of the first psychiatrists and of the stamping of the outcome as a failure of the discipline of forensic psychiatry. It came to be claimed as being unscientific because experts disagreed among themselves. As if it were up to the court to determine what is scientific truth in the context of paradigmatic strifes in normal science, including pure mathematics. And as if it the choice of the second pair of psychiatrists summoned by the court could not have been "commissioned results". Not to mention that in my own experience and as common knowledge in scientific communities the choice of experts determines the outcome of evaluations such as in determining the allowance of research grants. The awkward thing is that in the first diagnosis Breivik's behavior would have been seen as motivated by delusional misconceptions while in the endorsed second diagnosis it is seen as motivated by political engagement or involvement. That is, again, as if political involvement cannot be caused by delusional misconceptions. In this way the court's verdict uncovers all the basic philosophical and ethical problems associated with the determination of  evil and responsibility that I have addressed elsewhere in my review of a well known but problematic book on "how good people turn evil".

Theologians and philosophers like Heidegger try to create a theology without God as I myself considered elsewhere, and it is not strange that politicians and political intellectuals also try the same in the pursuit of the "breakdown of the ego-desire drive." Everybody seems to mention and appeal to anything except Christian teachings that are systematically ignored except for being smeared in associations to the "Christian right". After writing most of this present text I had to wait until May 2nd, 2015, in order to see the first essay in the press that addressed the core of the Breivik-question in terms similar to those I introduced here: Emerich Roth's article in the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet (in Swedish, 2 May 2015) with the suggestive title "Bara kärlek kan rädda oss från hat" [Only love can rescue us from hate]. Nevertheless it is symptomatic that the author attempts to base his appeal for universal love upon secular grounds with the result that the educational functions of the family are supposed to be taken over by the school system and its staff [read: "society" and government] including men who would function as "role models" of fathers for children who cannot anymore rely on their dysfunctional families. This naively hopeful or, rather, hopeless reliance upon gender equalization and government recalls two reviews of mine dealing with political correctness, and with state individualism. The naivety of Roth's conception is sealed by his one only intellectual reference to, and quotation: by the Swedish author Hjalmar Söderberg: "One wants to be loved, in lack thereof admired, in lack thereof feared, in lack thereof loathed and despised. One wants to instill some sort of emotion in people. The soul trembles before emptiness and desires contact at any price." (From Doctor Glas, 1905.) That is the way in which the complex message of love vs. justice in the Torah, the Bible or the Koran was substituted by reference to the common sense of Hjalmar Söderberg, in the supposition of being able to avoid the issue of religion.

We are reminded that process of dismantling Christianity started long ago and today not even philosophers themselves are prone to study, for instance, J.-G. Fichte's atheism dispute (in French La Querelle de l'Athéisme, the case described in French Wikipedia) at at the time when society and its legal system still cared about it all.
Poor C.S. Lewis turns in his grave or cries in heaven for apparently have written in vain his Christian apologetics as in Mere Christianity
. And so what? Many  believe that Christ himself died on the cross "in vain".